Tranmere played some sensational football during their first month back in the EFL, but it’s fair to say that the performance at Northampton yesterday didn’t hit those same heights.
There were a couple of consistencies that were again evident again however, one being the outstanding travelling support of nearly 700 fans that roared the team on. The other was Tranmere’s goal scorer, that man James Norwood again on the mark for his sixth goal.
Micky Mellon named an unchanged starting eleven, though Zoumana Bakayogo returned to the bench. Also, long-term absentee Adam Buxton warmed-up pre-game, and while he did not make the bench, it’s a sure sign that he is approaching fitness.
The opening 15 minutes or so saw the teams share possession, Tranmere arguably shading it. Indeed, in terms of chances, they probably shaded the first half, the best falling to Mark Ellis who saw his header saved by the Cobblers’ goalkeeper.
Cole Stockton also went close with a cross-shot that glided inches wide of the left-hand post and somehow resulted in a corner, while James Norwood was inches away from connecting with Connor Jennings’ low ball from the left.
At the other end, McNulty and Ellis were excellent in the first half, but it was Scott Davies who was perhaps the shining light with some smart saves.
There was one recurring theme throughout the first half that was a concern, and that was the ease of which Northampton’s right winger was beating Manny Monthe time after time. Surely there would have been a temptation to bring Bakayogo on to match the pace up, but that wasn’t done until late on.
In to the second half and Rovers continued to play on the break. You got the feeling it would require one bit of quality to carve Ash Taylor and co open, and so it proved.
Jennings and Norwood played a lovely one-two of sorts and Norwood forced his way in behind three floundering defenders, two of whom tried to chase him down, and ran in to the area. He dummied back on to his right foot, sending Taylor flying on his backside, and coolly slotted home.
Sadly, the lead didn’t seem to last too long. Horrendous defending allowed Morias all of the space and time needed in the box to slot passed Davies, but the lack of defensive quality shown by Caprice, McNulty and Ellis was dire. Ellis literally stood and watched Morias pick his spot from eight yards.
The home side had the ball in the net again shortly after, but that was ruled out. Davies was forced to make a good save again five minutes later, but Rovers just about survived.
Mellon did eventually introduce Bakayogo, but Monthe stayed on and Zoum played left wing in place of Stockton, Jennings joining Norwood upfront. It failed to really make any difference, though Bakayogo went close with a neat half-volley from the edge of the box.
All-in-all, it was a decent point away from home for Rovers who will be back at Prenton Park next week.